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Wilson Comfortable In Versatile Role; Other Notes

Posted Sep 28, 2012

Second-year defensive back wears many hats.

Jimmy Wilson made his living at cornerback mostly in nickel and dime situations as a rookie last season, so even though he was switched to safety in training camp his instincts are still there.

Over the last two weeks, Wilson’s versatility was put to the test after starting cornerback Richard Marshall was dinged up with a back injury. He came up with a nice pass breakup in the end zone in Miami’s 35-13 win over the Oakland Raiders and then was pressed into action late last week against the New York Jets but in essence he felt right at home.

“I played nickel last year and a lot of corner so as far as guarding man-to-man in the slot and things like that I did a lot of that last year,” said Wilson, who only played one year of safety in college. “In the nickel guarding receivers is where I’m more comfortable at as far as play recognition and such. It’s actually easier for me to study that position than it was for me to study safety at the start.”

This Sunday in Arizona, Wilson and the rest of the secondary will face a dangerous Arizona passing offense with Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald their biggest weapon. Should Marshall not be available, Wilson will be asked to shoulder his load again as Nolan Carroll would take the boundary in nickel and dime packages.

Head Coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle have a lot of confidence in Carroll and Wilson. That confidence was evident near the end of training camp when Philbin signed off on the trade that sent cornerback Vontae Davis to the Indianapolis Colts.

“Obviously, they’re not unlike other players on the ball club. They’ve done some very good things,” Philbin said. “There’s certainly room for improvement and development. We hope we see that as the season progresses, but I think they prepare well. I think they’re guys that can make some plays and hopefully we want to see more of those as the year unfolds.”

Marshall experienced a similar challenge as Wilson last year in Arizona, only in the reverse. He was brought in as a cornerback and then moved to safety after Kerry Rhoades broke his foot and was lost for the season.

His style of play is similar to Wilson’s, which is why the two work well together in the secondary and why Marshall has a lot of confidence in what Wilson can do as a nickel corner.

“At nickel you’re really just playing corner except inside and you’ve got to be quick in there and your movement has got to be a little different,” said Marshall, who notched his first interception as a Dolphin last week against the Jets and returned to practice today after sitting out yesterday. “You’ve just got to study a little more because there are different checks in motions but he’s been getting it down pretty good. When I made the move last year to safety it was a little difficult at first but I made the transition pretty quickly and it was kind of easy for me because I played nickel because you drop down into the box at both positions.”

Nickel corners and safeties are the ones charged with keeping the damage to a minimum if a receiver like Fitzgerald does make a catch, especially in the middle of the field. He has made his reputation on turning short passes into touchdowns or long gains, so getting him on the ground immediately is a key and that’s where Marshall and Wilson are similar.

“Richard’s a big help just because I like his style of play,” Wilson said. “He kind of plays like me. He’s a real physical guy and I like that about him as a person and as a player. He plays football the way it’s supposed to be played.”

INJURY UPDATE

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (knee), linebacker Austin Spitler (groin) and wide receiver Marlon Moore (hamstring) are being listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game, with Spitler the only one who did not practice at all today. … Cornerback Richard Marshall (back) and running back Reggie Bush (knee) are both listed as questionable and were limited along with quarterback Matt Moore (finger), McDaniel and Marlon Moore. … Cornerback Nolan Carroll (Achilles), defensive end Andre Fluellen (hamstring), defensive tackle Randy Starks (knee) and defensive tackle Mike Rivera (groin) all participated in a full practice and are listed as probable along with Matt Moore (finger).

COACH SPEAK

“It’s a little bit of everything. I think some of it is related to tackling and I think some of it’s related to making sure from a communication standpoint everybody’s playing the defense called the right way. I think sometimes it’s just a little bit tighter coverage and sometimes it’s a lack of pass rush. I think as we all know most of the chunk plays have come in the passing game against us.” – Head Coach Joe Philbin on preventing chunk plays against his defense

“The more jobs that you can do as a player in this league I think the better it is for the ballclub. Sometimes injuries alter the roster and one week you might have X amount of defensive backs up and the next week you’re down one or you’re down a linebacker or you’re down a defensive lineman and the same thing can happen on offense. So it just helps with the flexibility.” – Philbin on having versatile players capable of playing more than one position

“The nice thing with a young player is you’re looking for those signs where there’s learning and growth and you always know that he’s not going to be a finished product quite yet. But I think he’s getting better, there’s no doubt about it, from where he was in the preseason. I think about a couple of the preseason games and what he’s done in the last couple of weeks and I like the development that I see. I think he’s staying on his feet better, he’s a very aware player and I think he has a chance to be good.” – Philbin on the progress being made by rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin

LOCKER ROOM TALK

“We expect it to be rocking. They’re 3-0 and they’re a hot team with a good fan base out there. I like these road games, especially against a big challenge in this kind of opponent. I think there’s been a lot of pressure and urgency in all of our games and I think it will continue because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to play well and get wins.” – tight end Anthony Fasano playing in a loud stadium in Arizona

“It’s going to be a tremendous challenge. They’ve got a great quarterback, a great receiving corps and a great guy in Larry Fitzgerald who we know can stretch the field. So it’s going to be a big challenge and most importantly us as a secondary just to go out and make the plays are there.” – safety Reshad Jones on facing the Cardinals’ offense on the road

“It’s going to be a very tough and competitive day. Larry’s a guy who moves around a lot so you definitely want to make sure you know where he’s at and whoever’s guarding him you want to make sure you know where you’re help is as well.” – cornerback Sean Smith on game planning for Fitzgerald

DOLPHINS TIDBITS

## Eight players on the current roster were with the Dolphins four years ago when they last traveled west to face the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium, with three of them on special teams. Wide receiver Davone Bess, left tackle Jake Long, tight end Anthony Fasano and defensive tackles Paul Soiai and Randy Starks joined kicker Dan Carpenter, punter Brandon Fields and long snapper John Denney. Bess, Carpenter and Long were rookies at the time.

## There seemed to be more deep thought put into this morning’s song selections during warm-ups and stretching as all of the ones picked were old school. Creedence Clearwater Revival started things off with “Someday Never Comes,” which was released back in 1972. That was the year the Miami Dolphins went undefeated so it was pretty appropriate. We moved into the 1980s next with “Candy,” by Cameo from 1986 and then Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” from 1988 started to play before they broke into positional drills. During the Cameo song, Cameron Wake, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett broke out into an impromptu line dance and were perfectly in sync.
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